At 07:44 UTC, May 22, 2012, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket thundered into space, carrying the Dragon capsule into orbit.
This morning’s launch went very smoothly. After achieving orbit, the uncrewed Dragon craft decoupled from the rocket and successfully deployed its solar panels, a key milestone in the mission. When that happened, the cheering from the SpaceX team could be heard in the webcast background, which was delightful.
Video here. Skip ahead to minute 56 when the solar panels deploy and cheer goes up from the Space X crowd. I must admit, a huge grin broke out on my face too. There is just something so wonderful and heroic and impossible about space travel that I can’t help but be moved.
On Friday, the Dragon capsule will meet with the space station. If it maneuvers well, it will dock and then return to Earth. And if the mission is a success, it will mean that, ten years after its foundation, SpaceX is exceeding NASA in its ability to support the space station.
I love this. You combine this with last month’s ambitious announcement of an effort to mine the asteroids and the private space industry is really starting to take off, no pun intended. It’s the perfect intersection of economics, science and ambition.
More of this!